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TT #12: English and English Are Two Different Languages and Other Stuff

12 Mar 2008

After university, my restlessness took me to Europe, where I settled for a few months and used Ireland as my base while I flew back and forth between Dublin and continental Europe. I think I spent time in about 13 countries before hopping back across the Atlantic. I had a kick-ass time and learned so many things, including English and English are two different languages.

Things I Learned in Europe

Number 1
A “roundabout” is a traffic circle.

Number 2
A “hot press” is a closet and a “water closet” is a bathroom.

Number 3
“Dodgy” means shady. And everything is either dodgy or brilliant or grand.

Number 4
“Chips” are fries and “crisps” are chips.

Number 5
“Half seven” means 6:30 in Germany and 7:30 in Ireland and England.  “Friday week” is a week from Friday.

Number 6
To differentiate between Aussies and Kiwis, listen to their e‘s and i‘s.  Kiwis will pronounce six as “sex.”

Number 7
PB&J is a North American delicacy. (Oh, the looks of what-the-hell-is-she-doing I got!)

Number 8
If you ask for bacon, you’ll get a big, SOFT thing of pork (ew!). If you want the strips of streaky pork belly, ask for rashers. And tell them to keep it on the grill for an extra 5 to 10 minutes.

Number 9
Guinness is good…but only in Ireland. I learned I like mine with a shot of blueberry ale.

Number 10
The Place de l’Étoile is the large traffic circle around L’Arc de Triomphe. The traffic, fed from twelve avenues, is so bad that vehicle insurance is null and void within the Place de l’Étoile because there is an accident every twelve minutes. (By the way, the view from the top of L’Arc de Triomphe is pretty spectacular.)

Number 11
Taxis in Germany are mainly Mercedes. (Man, was I spoiled!)

Number 12
Neuhaus Belgian chocolates are the greatest in the world. (I now have a kilo of it shipped to me every quarter.)

Number 13
And I spent too much of my childhood watching Seinfeld because everyone I met, including Americans, assumed I was from New York because of my accent. (For the record, I’m a Canuck through and through. But NOT a Vancouver Canucks fan.)

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. azteclady permalink
    12 Mar 2008 2:07 PM

    I did know. Did you know that Spanish/Spain and Spanish/Mexico and Spanish/Puerto Rico and Spanish/Venezuela and Spanish/Colombia are different as well? (there are more variations, but these are the ones I’ve experienced first hand, with often hilarious results)

  2. 12 Mar 2008 3:48 PM

    Oh my. The bacon one caught my eye. I could eat pork any way it’s prepared. *yummo*

    Happy TT 🙂

  3. 12 Mar 2008 3:54 PM

    I love the differences. I love hearing someone talk and say them.

  4. 12 Mar 2008 4:15 PM

    Fabulous list. I love researching stuff like this. Happy T13!

  5. 12 Mar 2008 4:45 PM

    What a fun list! I actually have a English – American dictionary. When I get really stuck? I email Nicholas. He’s delightful, of course.

    Happy TT!

  6. 12 Mar 2008 4:50 PM

    A roundabout is also a thing in a children’s playground. And to very posh English people. “sex” is what potatoes are stored in.

    I used to get into trouble mixing up Aussies and Kiwis. They really don’t like it, especially Kiwis. But I am sure I can tell the difference between a New Yorker and a Canuck! New Yorkers don’t go oat and about.

    Thanks Claudia! <>

  7. 12 Mar 2008 5:29 PM

    It always amazes me that No. 7 isn’t a global delicacy. Ain’t nothin’ better!

  8. 12 Mar 2008 6:05 PM

    I’m always amazed by the differences in dialect — even as you move around the states, too.

  9. Mama Kelly permalink
    12 Mar 2008 6:11 PM

    A great list. Truly entertaining and educational.

    Happy Th13

  10. 12 Mar 2008 7:20 PM

    I think round-abouts are a hoot.

    SJR
    The Pink Flamingo

  11. 12 Mar 2008 7:57 PM

    When I was in Europe 25 years ago, I learned that they do not believe in ICE. If you asked for ice in your soda or water, they knew you were American! Is it still that way???
    Great TT!

  12. 12 Mar 2008 8:17 PM

    azteclady – My Hispanic friends bemoan that all the time. And I also love the differences between Canadian French and French French. My French roommate would laugh all the time when I spoke French, but I think that was mainly because of my atrocious accent.

    chuck – You are definitely the more adventurous one. A big, soft slice of ham is one thing; a big, soft thing of English bacon just made me shudder. Strange, but I didn’t mind the blood pudding at all.

    MAGGIE AT COFFEESHOPMAFIA – I loved listening to their accents. Of course, I was told that I was the one with the accent, not them.

    Adelle Laudan – Thanks for stopping by!

    On a Limb with Claudia – Hmm. Do you think Nicholas will offer up his services for other people? I want to write a story set in Great Britain one day.

    Nicholas – Oh, I heard about the potato sack, but it completely slipped my mind.

    SandyCarlson – Isn’t that so wrong? No one could understand PB&J… Then again, I don’t get vegemite.

    Susan Helene Gottfried – Oh, yes. Even from NY to NJ the accents and dialects change. The differences make things so much more interesting.

    Mama Kelly – Thanks for stopping by!

    SJ Reidhead – I didn’t think so the first time. I was lost for about an hour in a foreign city in a deserted area until I finally put 2 and 2 together.

    Lara – Hmm, I didn’t come across that. Most people figured I was a foreigner because I tipped–and the accent gave me away. I actually had people try to give me my money back because they thought I forgot my change.

  13. 12 Mar 2008 8:48 PM

    Ah, thank you for the European memories. I spent a semester in Austria and traveled to about the same # of countries as you. Awesome TT list!!

  14. 12 Mar 2008 9:18 PM

    That’s a great list! We have a traffic circle in old towne and sometimes we call it a roundabout just to be different! Happy TT!

  15. 13 Mar 2008 12:42 AM

    And in London there are several accents so what is a roundabit ? it was the roundabout, lol ! You like Neuhaus chocolats ? The best are Godiva (and the most expensive !) very good is also Leonidas ! I live in Belgium !

  16. 13 Mar 2008 3:13 AM

    Oh, yes–the PB&J. Our German friends and relatives always ask us to buy them peanut butter, but they think putting jelly on the sandwich with it is insane.

    They do have bacon here in Germany–in McDonald’s and Burger King. *rolling my eyes*

  17. 13 Mar 2008 4:35 AM

    I absolutely loved this post. I want to go to England/Scotland, so reading this was pretty informative (ew on the bacon and thanks for the tip).

    Renee

  18. 13 Mar 2008 7:52 AM

    What a fun list! I love to learn things I don’t know when reading T-13s. How fun that you respond in comments (as do I on my blogs) so I’ll be sure to pay attention to follow-ups ;–)
    Hugs and blessings,

  19. 13 Mar 2008 9:21 AM

    I come from the land of the good chocolate too!
    I love your list!

  20. 13 Mar 2008 10:23 AM

    That was a fun fun fun Thirteen. Thanks! 🙂

  21. 13 Mar 2008 11:46 AM

    I definitely don’t think I would fair too well with the lingo in Europe. People would think I’m completely strange.

  22. 13 Mar 2008 12:48 PM

    I love their bacon, but it is quite different from ours. Great list!

  23. 13 Mar 2008 5:35 PM

    EXCELLENT list and very entertaining!
    Do they eat Tuna sandwiches? Bologna?

  24. 13 Mar 2008 6:28 PM

    Bethany – Isn’t traveling fun? I missed a lot of the Nordic countries, so I need to go back as soon as I can get my company to give me a year off.

    Winter – They managed to convert me a little, so I use words like roundabout and telly and dodgy now. Most people here who know me take it okay because I also use “y’all” a bit. (Can’t help it! I live in a metropolis that was once nicknamed Cowtown!)

    Gattina – I love Leonidas (man, they push ’em out like fast food in Brussels), but not as much as I love Neuhaus. As for Godiva…it didn’t do it for me. 😦

    Darla – Um, these are the same people who have boiled pig’s feet with their beer, right? At least that’s what I remember seeing in Munich.

    Renee – You’ll have a blast!

    storyteller – I’m here two nights a week!

    Jientje – You also come from the land of amazing beer, waffles to die for, and the greatest B&B I’ve ever stayed at.

    Vera – Thanks for stopping by!

    Lauren – You’d fit it. Sometimes I think there are more foreigners in any European country than natives because everything’s so close that people travel to different countries on a whim. One of my roommates said she had 3 men fly her to Paris for dates. When Paris is only an hour away, it’s very doable.

    beeker – Someone told me their bacon is like Canadian bacon, but in all my years in Canada, I’ve never come across it. I guess I just like my pork strips crispy. That way I can fool myself into thinking that most of the fat’s been melted away. *snort*

    Chrissie – Tuna, yes. But I can’t say for sure about bologna. I never looked for it in the supermarkets. But I will say this: they have much better pasta sauces than North America.

  25. 14 Mar 2008 1:31 AM

    My first ever random T13 visit and I find a subject dear to my heart. As a proud Englishman who spends a lot of time communicating with American friends over the interwebs, I often find the language clash to be most entertaining.

    For example, your PB and Jelly. Jelly, to us, is what you call Jello. I believe, what you guys call Jelly is what we call Jam.

    As for the bacon issue, was that in Germany? Bacon over here is bacon. I’ve always found that the Germans tend to severely undercook their meat.

    Here’s another word for you to digest – Bollocks. Bollocks is a slang term with so many meanings. Shouting “Oh bollocks” is like shouting “oh damn”. You can say something is “bollocksed” meaning it is broken. If something is the dog’s bollocks, it means it’s amazing. Finally, you can threaten to kick a man in the bollocks. I’ll let you work that one out.

    Many thanks for the good read.

  26. 14 Mar 2008 11:24 AM

    kamiza – It can be comedy of errors. After an eight-hour flight, while my brain was still mush, I asked for directions to the taxis, and the poor Scottish girl had to say “take that lift” about a dozen times before I realized she meant the elevator. Of course, her brogue was pretty strong.

    I ran into the bacon issue in England and Ireland. No problem in Germany, though. Go figure.

    And bollocks. That word always makes me laugh, and I do use it on occasion. I think I watched too much Black Adder and Monty Python growing up. Wait, I watched BA just yesterday. I’m still not grown up, then.

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